MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have called on the government to come up with stricter measures to prevent the possible spread of, what experts call, more transmissible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant – the Omicron variant.
BHW Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co said that if imposing a total temporary travel ban is not possible, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) should already be coordinating with hotels and other facilities that could be transformed into quarantine facilities once again for incoming foreign passengers.
“If the IATF does not impose a total temporary travel ban on countries and territories where the Omicron variant has been confirmed, then IATF must set aside hotels or facilities where all the incoming passengers from those areas shall be quarantined for 14 days,” Co said.
Co cited the transmission of the said variant in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, and Israel.
The lawmaker underscored that as the holiday season always draws a bigger volume of passengers entering the country, the government must find ways to encourage Filipinos abroad to consider postponing their homecoming.
House Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela City 2nd District Representative Eric Martinez, meanwhile, said the national government must implement a more stringent border control in the country and not be lax in the influx of passengers from countries that have still yet to record Omicron variant cases.
“The government should force a heavy border control under all circumstances, not to be complacent even to arrivals coming from countries seemingly unaffected by the new variant,” Martinez said.
House Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy also echoed the same call of stricter border control amid the threat of the Omicron variant.
Herrera-Dy stressed the need to intensify the country’s contact tracing, rapid testing, and isolation mechanisms in all port entries in the country.
The solon said the government should already have a ready system to confront the Omicron variant threat so as not to have a repeat of lockdowns that the country experienced in the past year.
“Authorities must put additional control measures in place, including enhanced contact tracing, rapid testing and isolation, in all ports of entry nationwide,” Herrera-Dy said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)